3. The Writing Process

Writing is a process of communicating thoughts and ideas from the writer to the reader. This process involves two skills sets. One is the thinking/creativity skill. The other involves the small motor skills involved in using a pen or pencil or typing on a keyboard. The two skills are interconnected in many ways that researchers who study the operations of the brain do not fully understand.

Thinking/Creativity Skills
One of the reasons people have trouble with writing is that the process is somewhat mysterious. We do not know where the ideas come from. We are often led astray from the topic by free-flowing words. Or, the supply seems to dry up suddenly and our minds go blank.

Small Motor Skills

1. Pen or Pencil
Adults who are not accustomed to writing might not have developed the fine motor skills in their hands and fingers to accomplish the physical act of writing. Their penmanship may be extremely poor. You will need to encourage your learner to practice handling a writing instrument. Some students may need practice copying and writing smaller letters in anticipation of filling out applications; others may be ready to practice cursive writing. Some never learn to use cursive writing but print all of their written communication.

Optional activities (Click here to learn more about small motor skills.)

2. Keyboard
If your learner has trouble writing, whether it is coming up with ideas or putting pen to paper, you may want to try putting her in front of a keyboard.

The keyboard
  1. requires different small motor skills and different neural paths from putting pen to paper
  2. frees up writers who can only stare at an empty piece of paper
  3. works particularly well with learners who experience learning difficulties or disabilities.

With adults completely unaccustomed to the keyboard, the tutor can act as scribe, typing the learner's words and ideas. As the learner becomes more familiar using the keyboard, she can take over the physical act of typing her own stories.

Optional activities (Click here to learn more about keyboarding.)


34 comments:

Queen Of My Castle said...

I had never really thought of the process of being able to learn with a keyboard vs a pen or pencil. I had always assumed you had to be able to write with a pen or pencil prior to using a keyboard. I look forward to being able to put my students with a keyboard before they have mastered a pen and paper.

tutorgirl said...

I am investigating all the links in the online tutorial and I am amazed at what resources are out there. It is heartening to see all of the computer help thatis available to learners in a simple format.

I remember that one of my son's friends was allowed to work and do tests on a computer as part of his IEP. He performed better on the keyboard rather than writing. He is now a musician!

tutorgirl said...

I am investigating all the links in the online tutorial and I am amazed at what resources are out there. It is heartening to see all of the computer help thatis available to learners in a simple format.

I remember that one of my son's friends was allowed to work and do tests on a computer as part of his IEP. He performed better on the keyboard rather than writing. He is now a musician!

lillian said...

I know some students can write better on the computer and besides looking neater, it helps to correct spelling errors. This suggestion is good.

Gerri said...

I know that using a keyboard is hugely helpful to kids in school who struggle with pencil and paper. I have seen it help them many times.

Ms. Ovette said...

I like the idea of the learner using pen and pencil. They're unlikely to use a keyboard to fill in a check or the blanks on an application. A pen and paper are still more affordable and portable than a computer. Yes, I know. Dinosaur.

Marian said...

Keyboarding is great, but I believe one still needs the basic pen & pencil skill to write things on the spot, like an appointment time from a phone message, or a grocery list.

rsvmi52 said...

In my location I think that using a keyboard is a remote possibility.I would rather the student use a writing tool in hand. It's the same with math skills that are being diminished with so many calculators available.

Lynn said...

I like and agree with Ms. Ovette's comment. Plus, I remember it taking a whole summer for me to learn to type "the proper way."

neg said...

I do use the keyboard to avoid some writing.

SNelson said...

The benefits of using the writing process are vast!

Megan N said...

I have never put much thought into the words I type more so than the worst I write. It's interesting that some people may learn better that way!

Kenneth Zen Bodhi said...

It will be interesting to see the difference between those that want to learn to write with pen and paper, and those that want to exclusively learn to write on a computer.

lisakay said...

Developing fine motor skills as an adult must feel awkward. I guess that I get some idea of it writing with my non-dominant hand. Learning the keyboard and typing skills seems more laborious but I agree with previous comment that it will be interesting to see what learners prefer.

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Rose Maria said...

how can i improve my handwriting?
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Wallace West said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wallace West said...

If you haven't written for awhile your hand gets tired fast and cramping up. I had to fill out multiple forms and thought to myself is there a computer around. But that's not always best, you want to wizard through keyboarding is the best it has auto correct and other helpful functions but I suggest a pen and paper every so often and you'd be surprised at how smart your not now that the computer isn't helping

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Regina Cook said...

Initially working as a scribe for a student is ideal.

Pamela Lee said...

I had a Spanish speaking student before who had beautiful printing. Another who didn't print so well; maybe I should have introduced her to the keyboard.

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MSTATEN said...


For strengthening small motor skills, specifically pen to paper; what would be an effective alternative to having the participant just trace over the letters or words? Being that in Unit 1 via LitStart it said that adult learners don't like to learn like child learners.

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